Bah Humbug! Miserablist Fiction This Christmas

We are not completely grumpy men. But, in the grand tradition of miserable Christmas soap opera episodes, we felt it would be a fun thing to do to list some absolutely dark and down fiction this festive season. So, we came up with a preliminary list of worryingly bleak books, some genre, some not. But all still good reading.

The Scalding Rooms, by Conrad Williams. (Dark, dark fantasy.)

Viriconium, by M John Harrison. (Fantasy, and a kind of bleak poetry.)

Nineteen Seventy Four, by David Peace. (Crime—and simply one of the most grim and well written books around, set in the grimmest of northern English regions in Winter.)

Nineteen Eighty Four, by George Orwell. (SF.)

Memories of Ice, by Steven Erikson. (Fantasy. And for the body count.)

Perdido Street Station, by China MiƩville. (Fantasy/SF, but in a bleak and oppressive world.)

We're too happy at the moment, so throw some suggestions our way. What are some of the bleakest books you've read?

9 comments:

Chadbourn said...

Hawksmoor by Peter Ackroyd
Pet Sematary by Stephen King

Darren T said...

Dusk and Dawn by Tim Lebbon. Extremely well-written, trope-twisting, genre-convention-defying stuff, but it's bleaker than the Pennine Moors in a snowstorm and about as miserable as a kitten in a terrier's kennel. Great stuff! :D

Chris said...

I've got Scalding Rooms... can't quite get myself into the miserablist mood to read it.

I have read Game though - now, that's graphically violent. I don't think Conrad could've stretched such nihilism to a novel length.

(Tip for Solaris: publish both novellas (along with "Rain") in the one mass-market paperback.)

Tim Akers said...

Market Forces, Richard K Morgan

Mark Newton said...

Some interesting tomes there, people...

Chris: choose any day in this cold winter weather, maybe a bit of sleet in the air, and let that "Scalding Rooms" setting take you away and give you the shivers...

I read "Rain", recently: bloody good novella, that one. Much more psychological than his other works, for me.

(By the way, stay tuned for some news on that front...)

I think bleak fiction is a totally underrated trend. Let's start the Miserablist Revolution!

Come on, more books. There's too much Christmas cheer in the air. :-)

Darren T said...

Okay then... 'Bleak House' by Dickens? Never read it, but it's got to be grim, right?

Come to think of it, take a copy of 'A Christmas Carol' and rip out that annoying last chapter or two with all that irritating redemption and cheerfulness in it, et voila! Miserable and seasonal - perfect!

Christian said...

The Catcher in the Rye - as bleak as you like and set at this time of year. He even catches a cold at the end... ;->

Chadbourn said...

Well, if we're going for literature, there's always 1984. He was a miserable bugger, Orwell. Rats, boots stamping on a face, betrayal of true love. But you do get a big screen TV...

Mark Newton said...

If we're going by way of classics, surely anything by Thomas Hardy would suffice? Zola's "Germinal"?